As technology innovations continue to shift the business landscape, many of the biggest — such as big data and the cloud — at first glance may not seem directly related to finance, which is why digital finance technologies sometimes do not get the attention they should. But if a company truly wants to reinvent itself for the digital age, it has to make finance a primary component of that reinvention.
Finance is at the core of any business, and the processes completed in the finance department are essential for keeping an organization up and running. If finance isn’t running properly — if performance bottlenecks are slowing down key processes or manual data entry is introducing errors, for instance — the effects will ripple out across the business.
Only by digitizing these core financial processes can a business truly become innovative and modern. So what, exactly, does digital finance look like? It includes four key characteristics: agility, automation, access, and action.
Today’s businesses move fast, and finance departments need to move faster to provide organizations with the data they need to make critical decisions. Quick closes and agile financial planning cycles are vital for a truly flexible business that can respond to changing business needs in real time.
Manual processes are error prone and inefficient. Modern finance departments often find that automation is essential for keeping up with a digital business, particularly when it comes to managing fixed asset accounting, income tax provisioning, and data uploads.
Like most employees, finance employees are seeking easier, more efficient ways of doing their jobs. That means greater process efficiency, real-time access to data, a single source of truth, and integration with modern technologies, such as the cloud or machine learning. Businesses that provide these features with solid access controls will benefit from productivity increases while minimizing risks.
Finance is often seen as a background function, but the changing business landscape means that it is poised to become a primary business driver. Finance departments that take advantage of innovative technologies can transition from providing the business with historical reporting to being a key source of real-time analytics and guidance for the future.
For more information on how you can transform your business with digital finance, view the featured articles of the January-March issue of SAPinsider or browse the Financial Transformation special report.